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Tom’s Tech Tips

Tom’s Tuesday Tech Tip: It’s Almost Time for Windows® 7! Are You Ready? Should You Be? Do You Care?

Windows® 7 will officially be released into the wild on October 22 and will be sold with new computers. If you’ll remember, Windows XP® is no longer officially supported by Microsoft (although it will be available for limited purchases until 2010). People who are buying new computers with Windows Vista will be given the opportunity to make a free or low-cost upgrade. That’s the news.

Here’s the good news. Everything I’m reading, and everyone I’ve talked to who has run the final version of Windows 7 loves it. It has a few bugs but overall, it will be a vast upgrade improvement over Vista. (To be honest, Vista wasn’t really as bad as people like to think.) In fact, 7 is even better and more stable than XP. Some would say that it’s a worthy opponent to Mac’s Snow Leopard, but not being Mac-impaired, I can’t confirm that.

Certified Legal Nurse Consultants may wonder if it’s time to upgrade to a new computer with Windows 7 or instead, suffer through the upgrade process on your existing system. I’d say that depends. If you’re running XP, I think I’d wait until you upgrade to a new computer. There’s no direct upgrade process from XP to Win7. You’ll need to backup your personal data, wipe your hard drives, load the Win7 operating system, reapply your data and finally reload all your programs from their original media or downloads. Any patches or software upgrades would need to be reapplied also. It’s a complicated, but not impossible, process. For this reason alone I recommend holding off until you buy a new computer.

If you are a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant who is running Vista, the upgrade process is easier and you can upgrade directly to the equivalent version of Win7 while keeping all your files and programs in place. If you’re not happy with Vista, this is your chance to upgrade to something faster and more stable.

If you’re seriously thinking about the upgrade process, you’ll want to be sure that your hardware is robust enough to run Win7. Some of the biggest dissatisfactions with Vista resulted from users trying to run it on underpowered machines. Savvy legal nurse consultants will check their hardware before making the same mistake. If you’ve got a machine running Vista comfortably, you’ll probably be safe. No matter what computer you’re running you’ll need to have a DVD-RW (or CD/DVD-R) drive. For the rest of your hardware, these are the minimum specs (and experts tell us to double these numbers) you’ll need to successfully run Win7:

  1. Older 32-bit PCs should have a minimum of 1GB of RAM (I’d install as much as the system will hold and recognize), at least 16GB of free space on your hard drive and a processor faster than 1GHz. Your graphics system should be DX9 graphics compatible with at least 128MB of memory (to best utilize the Aero interface).
  2. New 64-bit PCs should have a minimum of 2GB of RAM (again I’d install as much as the system will hold and recognize) with at least 20GB of free space on your hard drive and also be DX9 graphics compatible.

If you don’t know how to tell whether or not you have a 32- or 64-bit PC, follow this link. A faster, but less accurate way is to see how much random access memory (RAM) you have. If you’re running 3GB or less, you probably have a 32-bit system. If you have more than 4GB, you’re running a 64-bit system. To see the amount of RAM you have installed (and recognized), right click on the My Computer icon on your Windows Desktop, left click Properties and then look at the General tab. If you have a 64-bit system, it will tell you, but if you have a 32-bit it will not!

The fastest way to find out if your existing computer can run Win7 is to download and run the free “Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor” from Microsoft. Make sure your computer is connected to all your peripheral devices (and they’re turned on) when you run it. It should let you know what you will need to be aware of in the upgrade process. With my cough-cough, ahem-year-old Dell Latitude D820 configured with a 2.00 GHz Intel Pentium T2500 CPU, 3GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive, it took about 5 minutes and only found a few issues that would need to be corrected prior to any upgrade. Microsoft also has a nifty help site to ease your way through the upgrade process.

If you decide to upgrade, Win7 comes in four consumer flavors, Starter (which will be found mostly on netbooks), Business (which handles remote connectivity), Home Premium (for average users) and Ultimate (for the geeks). You can explore them here, but Home Premium or Professional are the best choices for most Certified Legal Nurse Consultants.

Supposedly, Microsoft has expanded the security software and external hardware compatibility features of Win7 to avoid the issues they ran into with Vista. But I recommend you always search the Internet for information on particular programs before upgrading. For users with Win7 Professional and Ultimate, there’s also a cool XP mode that will allow those users to run applications that are XP but not Win7 compatible. I’ll get into features found in Win7 in a later blog. For today, I just want to let you know that Win 7 will be here before we know it.

As with any new operating system (or new car model for that matter), I wouldn’t rush out and buy it, or rush to upgrade to it, but once it’s here, we’ll be living with it for a long time. I’m going to wait and see how it shakes out before I make my decision.

Keep on techin’,

Tom

3 thoughts on “Tom’s Tuesday Tech Tip: It’s Almost Time for Windows® 7! Are You Ready? Should You Be? Do You Care?

  1. I blogged earlier in the year about purchasing a lap top and a new computer. I put it off until Win7 is available. I want everything I buy to be compatible and felt that holding off would be better. I did take a free Win7 class offered by a public library near me. It is similar to XP and the ribbons were pretty easy to use, but it will take some getting used to. Why does everything have to change? How efficient do we need to be?

    I have a question Tom. You may have addressed this in the past, but what are the advantages of say a Del over an HP or some of the others. Years ago I had a Brother (this was just a word processor) then an Apple and then pretty much HP after that.

  2. Diana,
    I’ve gone from Compaq (now HP) to Dell and have had terrific luck with longevity (time for a new computer) to service (no issues). In terms of brands – I recommend Dell, Apple (really), Lenovo/IBM and HP. Find the combination of pricepoint and size that works best for you and decide from there. I still wouldn’t try Windows 7 until at least Service Pack 2.

  3. I have been testing Win7 for the past two weeks on my business laptop and have enjoyed the changes. This operating system is what people had hoped Windows Vista would be. When I research key medical concepts for other Certified Legal Nurse Consultants, I usually have many programs running – multiple tabs and windows of Internet Explorer 8 and/or Firefox 3.5, a couple Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents, Skype for instant consulting access and Quickbooks in the background.

    I’ve noticed a slight performance improvement from Vista. The computer boots faster and comes out of sleep and hibernate modes more quickly. The updated task bar keeps me well organized by stacking the open files below my in-use program icons – no more spreading each minimized document along the taskbar until it’s too full to find. I mouse over each icon to see what documents are open within each program.

    Maneuvering in the Control Panel is much easier than Vista and XP has been. This made it more practical for me to do my own network administration like connecting to wireless networks, finding shared printers, and mapping network drives (shockingly easy!).

    For those of you legal nurse consultants who like to watch their favorite shows while relaxing after a long conference day (or while relaxing in your kitchen), Slingplayer currently does not work in Win7. That has been the only downfall I have found so far so you’ll have to try your iPhone or Blackberry to watch their beta versions of Slingplayer for now.

    Conclusion: clean and attractive interface, faster, more organized and more intuitive.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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